Environmental Science and Engineering Seminar

Wednesday, December 2, 2020
4:00pm to 5:00pm
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Online Event
J. Dowling: Role of Long-Duration Energy Storage in Variable Renewable Electricity Systems. K. Vasquez: Rapid hydrolysis of tertiary isoprene nitrate efficiently removes NOx from the atmosphere
Jackie Dowling, Caltech,
Krystal Vasquez, Caltech,

J. Dowling: Reliable and affordable electricity systems based on variable energy sources, such as wind and solar may depend on the ability to store large quantities of low-cost energy over long timescales. Here, we use 39 years of hourly U.S. weather data, and a macro-scale energy model to evaluate capacities and dispatch in least cost, 100% reliable electricity systems with wind and solar generation supported by long-duration storage (LDS; 10 h or greater) and battery storage. We find that the introduction of LDS lowers total system costs relative to wind-solar-battery systems, and that system costs are twice as sensitive to reductions in LDS costs as to reductions in battery costs. In least-cost systems, batteries are used primarily for intra-day storage and LDS is used primarily for inter-season and multi-year storage. Moreover, dependence on LDS increases when the system is optimized over more years. LDS technologies could improve the affordability of renewable electricity.

K. Vasquez: The formation of a suite of hydroxy nitrate (IHN) isomers during the OH-initiated oxidation of isoprene affects both the concentration and distribution of nitrogen oxide free radicals (NOx). Experiments performed in an atmospheric simulation chamber suggest that the lifetime of the most abundant isomer, 1,2-IHN, is shortened significantly by a water-mediated process (leading to nitric acid formation) while the lifetime of a similar isomer, 4,3-IHN, is not. Consistent with these chamber studies, NMR kinetic experiments constrain the 1,2-IHN hydrolysis lifetime to less than 10 s in D2O at 298 K, whereas the 4,3-IHN isomer has been observed to hydrolyze much less efficiently. These laboratory findings are used to interpret observations of the IHN isomer distribution in ambient air. The IHN isomer ratio (1,2-IHN to 4,3- IHN) in a high NOx environment decreases rapidly in the afternoon, which is not explained using known gas-phase chemistry. When simulated with an observationally-constrained model, we find that an additional loss process for the 1,2-IHN isomer with a time constant of about 6 hours best explains our atmospheric measurements. Using estimates for 1,2-IHN Henry's law constant and atmospheric liquid water volume, we show that condensed-phase hydrolysis of 1,2-IHN can account for this loss process. Simulations from a global chemistry transport model show that the hydrolysis of 1,2-IHN accounts for a substantial fraction of NOx lost (and HNO3 produced), resulting in large impacts on oxidant formation, especially over forested regions

For more information, please contact Bronagh Glaser by email at bglaser@caltech.edu or visit Environmental Science and Engineering.